Science tells us that empathy and trust are born from telling and receiving each other’s stories. Outsiders become insiders, strangers become friends when we know one another’s story.
I apply this fundamental truth about the importance of personal narrative to performance and the spoken word.
Akwi Nji is an award-winning writer and speaker, communications leader, and storyteller who specializes in utilizing digital, traditional, and live media to deliver compelling stories with high quality content that inspire trust and increase positive engagement with an organization's initiatives.
She utilizes the art of story to build community as a professional performance poet, storyteller, actor, voice over artist, and writer. In this capacity, she has performed professionally on countless stages around the country, including for NPR’s The Moth. She is Founder of The Hook, an 2016 Artist Fellow through the Iowa Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts, and producer of events that use a community’s story to activate empathy and trust within that community.
Akwi was born in Iowa City, Iowa, and raised in Cameroon, Africa, for the first nine years of her life. After these unique and formative years in Cameroon, she moved with her family to Springville, Iowa, and then, eventually, to Cedar Rapids. Her experiences as a Cameroonian, a Cameroonian-American in small-town Iowa, and a bi-racial teenager in the most ethnically diverse school in the city all provided an eclectic foundation for her early writing and observations into human relationships and the power of story.
Akwi received the 2016 Award of Distinction from the Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success and was named one of the 2016 Corridor Business Journal’s Forty Under 40. Her writing is both deeply personal and strikingly universal. Her work explores the complexities of gender, parenthood, race, political and social issues, concepts of home, and the tension between the outsider and the insider. In her most powerful work, she uses personal moments as the nucleus around which she crafts stories that, when given life on stage, become windows into universal truths about the human condition.
As a performer, she is drawn to the communal experience that is at the heart of words being spoken and heard in a public space.